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Working to Insure and Nurture Girls Success Program Evaluation

The number of young women and girls entering the criminal justice system has doubled in the past ten years. Increasingly, more girls are engaging in risky behaviors that are attracting the attention of the health, social services, and justice systems.

In San Diego County, in 1998 and 1999, 62 percent of the girls in custody were chronic drug abusers.

Females have different psycho-social needs than males and develop at levels that differ from males. Historically, the justice system had been geared toward males who comprise the majority of the youth referred to probation. Few services provided gender-responsive programs that addressed the unique needs of girls.

In late 1996 in San Diego County, the Probation Department convened a group of experts and developed a long range, comprehensive strategy for at-risk juveniles. The planning process included the identification of problems or issues that were not being adequately addressed for juveniles. One of the five service gaps identified was the lack of programs for girls.

When the State of California requested proposals to target at-risk juveniles through the Challenge Grant Program, the Probation Department sought and received $5 million to create the WINGS program (Working to Insure and Nurture Girls' Success).

The goal of the WINGS program is to reduce the number of females entering or continuing in the juvenile justice system by supporting and empowering girls and their families to access and receive community resources in a timely fashion. Through contracts with service providers, the program was based on a home-visiting model that involved the entire family in a systematic assessment using a multi-disciplinary team service delivery approach.

In 2000, SANDAG's Criminal Justice Research Division contracted with the San Diego County Probation Department to provide the process and impact evaluations required by the State Board of Corrections. The evaluation involved a classic experimental design with girls randomly assigned to be in either the treatment group for specialized gender-responsive services or the control group received standard probation and community services. Data were collected using a variety of instruments and methods, including case tracking and interviews with girls and families, as well as staff and other providers.


Project Manager

Sandy Keaton, Senior Criminal Justice Research Analyst
Phone: (619) 699-6933, Email:

For media inquiries, please contact the SANDAG Public Information Office at (619) 699-1950 or